Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is a Steam Donkey?

The steam monster shown here is actually calle a "Steam Donkey" because it used steam power to replace the donkey use to drag logs out of the woods. A "line horse" would carry the cable out to a log in the woods. The cable would be attached, and, on signal, the steam donkey's operator (engineer) would open the regulator, allowing the steam powered machine (donkey) to drag the log towards it. The log was taken to a mill or for shipment by rail, road or river. In some cases logs were loaded onto boats or floated directly in the water. Donkeys were moved by attaching a cable to a tree, a stump or something very secure and then the donkey would drag itself to a new location. Logging was a big part of the history of Ladysmith. To read more about ladysmwith, click here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Farm Forum and Community Festival

On a warm Fall day in October, what are you supposed to do? Well, why not go to Sooke and take in their Fall Farm Forum and Community Festival. We did and it was pretty darn amazing. There was enough information to sink a city slicker. There were tons of displays and some pretty neat things for kids to do. Our granddaughter was busy making apple juice (right) and she had a marvelous time putting together her own scarecrow, which she was very proud of. It now sits out front of her home in Fairfield where it is ready to greet fall visitors and halloweeners.
The display of mushrooms (left) was incredible. I had no idea that there were so many different mushrooms growing in our forests. I am not sure what is going on in Victoria right now, but the late fall weather has been exceptional for October. Yahoo!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Viewpoint Extraordinaire

If you want to see on of the best view points on Vancouver Island you will need to drive north of Victoria towards Duncan. As you leave Langford in the West of Victoria you will come across the Malahat Drive which begins near Goldstream Park. You will steadily climb up the Malahat. There are two view points on your right as you reach the summit. Stop at both. The first one has spectacular views back towards Victoria along Saanich Inlet. On a clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. There is always something spectacular to see at this view point. Then when you reach the summit, you will find another viewpoint hidden behind a split rock. The views from here are unbelievable. You can see out into the Gulf Islands. You can see all of Saanich Peninsula. You look down into Saanich Inlet and Brentwood Bay across the Inlet. You can watch the Brentwood-Mill Bay Ferry crossing below. Just across the way is Senanus Island. Below the surface of this island starting at about 80 feet are massive cloud sponges covering the wall as it descends to some 700 feet deep. Looking across Saanich Peninsula you will see the airport and Sidney by the Sea. Past that are the American San Juan Islands. The views go on for ever. If the weather is clear on the mainland you will also see beautiful Mount Baker in Washington State. Enjoy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Goldstream Salmon Spawn

At this time of the year, the trees are just starting to turn. The Malahat Drive through Goldstream park is paved with Gold. The trees are so golden right now, in full sun it is magical. The Salmon are starting to spawn and so locals and tourists are start to visit the park to watch this phenomenal spectacle. It is so beautiful in the park at this time of the year. In the morning sun, when there is mist on the river, the park is magical for sure. It is well worth the visit. While there be sure to visit the nature centre for detailed information on the spawn and to see the Eagle Cam that you can operate with a remote control. Put Goldstream Park on your list of fall "to-dos". The picture at the left shows visitors watching the salmon and viewing the salmon that have already spawned and died. Then the eagles come to feast on the dead carcases".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tea Time in Qualicum Beach

On the Thanksgiving weekend we had the fortune to stay at the Tea Cozy Bed and Breakfast in Qualicum Beach. This gem of a B&B is just minutes from the Qualicum Beach town centre, Parksville, and the beautiful beaches in the area. The hosts Hans and Tannis did a great job. It is such a cozy place, so warm and comfortable and Hans' breakfast is second to none. We really enjoyed our stay. For pictures and the complete story Click Here. If you want to view the Tea Cozy the go to their web site.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Explore Vancouver Island

If you get off the main road and search the secondary roads of Vancouver Island you will find many gems. This weekend we did just that. From Ladysmith we went with our friends Darryl and Edith to a small pub just a short drive north of Chemainus. There is a small community along the road there called Saltaire and it has a pub, the Saltaire Pub! Amazing name eh! It was the middle of the afternoon and the pub was surprizingly busy. They were getting the pub ready for a Thanksgiving Buffet in a few hours.

I had an order to crab cakes. I got four crab cakes that were huge and they were very tasty. I ordered some fries to go with them, but really didn't need them. My wife had a crab and artichoke dip on pita bread and she thought it was pretty good also. Darryl had chicken wings and Edith had chicken strips. There was a large variety of good beer available also. We all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon snack.

Pubs like this are not all that easy to find, but they are worth exploring for.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spook Season Hits Victoria

Victoria has a long history of mystery, intreague and hauntings. Bastion Square's Maritime Museum used to be the court house and Judge Begbie, the hanging judge as he was called, worked here. Bastion Square is supposed to be haunted. Camille's restaurant in Bastion Square has a special table set for haunted residents. On Belleville Street, the Judge's House which is now part of Gatsby Mansion was called the "Haunted House" and was a tourist attraction. The attraction is now closed, but the house is really haunted. Other attractions in Victoria are also haunted. Those include Point Ellice House and Craigdarroch Castle. St. Ann's Academy is also haunted and on Halloween they often put on a program about paranormal activities. The Empress Hotel has great ghost history and you can take tours of the Empress. There are also stories about a ghostly lady who appears on one of the holes at the Victoria Golf Course and there is much more. A local historian, John Adams conducts Ghostly Walks every night at 7:30 p.m.from now until Oct. 23. Johns Ghostly Walks take place every night at 7:30, plus Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. These start at the Tourism Victoria Visitor Info Centre at the north-east corner of the Inner Harbour. The schedule increases from Oct. 24-Nov. 1 when John offer tours everynight at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 pm, starting from the lobby of the Bedford Regency Hotel. From Nov. 8 through the end of Feb. the tours continue on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm from the Visitor Info Centre. Check out John's Web Site

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Final Approach

When you travel around Vancouver Island you will likely want to know where you can get a good meal. Generally, I just ask the locals. Most often they will lead you to the best places. It sure has worked for me. Now I have a sweet tooth so it has been my mission to find the best places for ice cream cones, my major weekness. I also like great pie. Lemon Merange, Banana Cream, and Pumpkin Pie are among my favourites. I really like Pecan pie, Strawberry Rubarb, Apple, and a host of others.For years, a lady in Sooke made pies for Mom’s cafe. The pie there was fantastic. I have not been there for a while so I hope that is still the case. Just recently I found a restaurant at the airport in Qualicum Beach. I had heard the food was pretty good there and it surely is. After a couple of visits, one person right behind me asked what was for desert. The waiter rattled off a list of pie that would knock your socks off. When he brought it out, he did a masterful job of marketing. He walked around the restaurant making sure everyone had a good look at the pie. That was good enough for me. I tried my favourite, banana cream. The crust is unbelieveable and very flakey. Not sure how many times I have been back there. Just recently I had a buffalo burger there and it was outstanding.I have introduced this place to many of my friends and aquaintences. Now I am introducing it to the world. The Final Approach is a great spot to eat. Everytime I am in there it is full of locals. Often times you will need a reservation. It is located at 3-1000 Ravensbourne Lane in Qualicum Beach, BC. Phone (250) 752-8966.You can sit inside our out on their patio. The planes come and go on the tarmac right outside the restaurant. You can get much closer without sitting in the plane. When in Qualicum, I recommend you give this place a try. For more photos click here